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CRM 1246 Introduction to Law and the Legal System

Course Description

Introduces the history, structures and processes of the U.S. legal system. Covers the basic legal concept. Includes due process, structure of the U.S. court system, civil and criminal procedure, and case law concepts. May be taken with CRM 1000.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, students should be able to

  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of legal concepts such as substantive and procedural due process, constitutional interpretation, appellate review, and the history of the U.S. legal system
  • Outline the structure and jurisdiction of the U.S. court systems
  • Define civil procedure
  • Brief and understand appellate court decisions
  • Apply case and statutory law to factual situations
  • Discuss basic criminal law and procedure, alternative dispute resolution, contracts, the law of torts, and the relationship between legislation and court law
  • Explain the applications of equity and the spectrum of judicial remedies 
  • Summarize the applications of administrative regulations

Week 1

Lecture: Introduction to Law and Society
Lecture: The Judicial System


  • Develop a general understanding of the law and the legal process
  • Recognize the legal system as a stabilizing force in society, with the capability to adapt to a changing political environment
  • Identify the foundation of the legal system as the U.S. Constitution, which provides for essential individual guarantees such as due process
  • Define basic legal terminology
  • Explain and apply the case analysis approach to the study of law to develop skills in legal reasoning methods
  • Describe the function, structure, and components of the American judicial system
  • Recognize the jurisdictional issues that differentiate federal court systems from state court systems
  • Explain the specific functions of the trial court judge and jury
  • Discuss appellate procedures within the context of jurisdiction

Week 2

Lecture: Civil Procedure


  • Explain the procedures of civil litigation from the time of the triggering event to final judgment
  • Detail the legal aspects of pretrial proceedings
  • Discuss the trial process, it’s participants, conduct, limitations, and purpose
  • Recognize that the general rules of civil procedure substantially impact the litigation process and outcomes

Week 3

Lecture: Institutional Sources of American Law


  • Recognize that American law is derived from a variety of sources
  • Identify the role of federal and state constitutions in the creation of law
  • Discuss the functions, limitations, and scope of authority associated with the judiciary as a source of American law
  • Illustrate the impact of the legislature as a significant influence in the legal environment
  • Describe the authority and mechanisms utilized by administrative agencies as a means to develop or modify law

Week 4

Lecture: Limitations in Seeking Relief


  • Identify the legal conditions under which remedy must be sought
  • Discuss the concepts associated with jurisdiction and its impact upon the legitimacy of a legal claim
  • Recognize the statutory restrictions, which prohibit the untimely filing of litigation
  • Differentiate between the factors that constitute a valid legal claim, as opposed to an ordinary dispute
  • Discuss the immunities the law has provided the government, its officials, and other institutions and individuals, which protect from legal liability suits

Week 5

Lecture: Judicial Remedies


  • Describe the various remedies available to the courts in civil litigation
  • Explain the differences in and describe the fundamental aspects of common law and equitable law remedies
  • Discuss the procedural differences in courts that dispense of civil litigation

Week 6

Lecture: Contracts: Part 1
Lecture: Contracts: Part 2


  • Explain the general principles of contract law
  • Discuss the process of contract formation, modification, performance, and breach
  • Identify the requirements of a valid and enforceable contract
  • Illustrate the impact of legal incompetency upon the contract process
  • Recognize factual situations that require written agreement upon which a cause of action can be based

Week 7

Lecture: The Law of Torts


  • Define torts and the functions of tort law
  • Discuss the concepts of intentional torts, negligence and strict liability claims
  • List the elements of negligence as it applies to tort law
  • Identify the concepts of duty to care and proximate cause and their significance in the area of torts
  • Explain existing defenses to tort claims in terms of assumption of risk, contributory negligence, and comparative negligence
  • Define strict liability and product liability in strict liability claims
  • Provide and survey tort reform law and its history

Week 8

Lecture: Property


  • Discuss the concept of property and its classifications
  • List the methods of obtaining property ownership
  • Define the types of ownership and the corresponding rights associated with them
  • Explain the governmental interest in private property, its scope and nature
  • Describe the concepts and issues related to real property
  • Identify means of personal property acquisition
  • Give a brief description of bailments

The course description, objectives and learning outcomes are subject to change without notice based on enhancements made to the course. February 2012